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The Dressmaker: A closer look at the film’s fashionable fads

By Emily Taylor

Brimmed white hat. Bold red lip. Dior black trench coat. Shall I go on?

From the opening scene of The Dressmaker, Tilly Dunnage , played by Kate Winslet, proved to be a striking style icon. The film followed the return of an accomplished dressmaker in 1951to her ramshackle, Australian town. Her welcome, however, was anything but warm.


After being accused of murder as a young girl, Tilly and her mother were shunned by the town.But could a little girl commit such a crime? Was she actually guilty of murder?

Though I cannot give the answer away, I can rule Tilly guilty of having killer style. After transforming the frumpy Gertrude Pratt into “the most striking girl in the room,” Tilly set the town into a fashion frenzy. She began designing dresses for all the women, creating only the most flattering and fabulous pieces.

The elegance of her creations went unmatched. From the bombshell bodice, hugging waistline, and sophisticated hemline of each dress, she accomplished the sassy yet classy ideal so true to 1950s fashion.


Throughout the film Tilly never failed to defy the idea “a dress can’t change anything.” This misconception was combatted, for instance, when her LBD (little black dress) was used as a weapon of distraction, leading her town’s rugby team to victory.

This, however, was a minor example of how powerful a dress can be.  Audience member, Brielle Ashford, was inspired by “how much confidence and radiance one beautiful piece of clothing could bring someone.”

Brielle also mentioned the movie shed light on the idea a dress does not make a woman, but rather a woman makes a dress. This expresses clothes only take women so far; personality is the true determinant of beauty.

Tilly Dunnage payed homage to another essential beauty principle of less is more. Her wardrobe may have consisted of extravagant gowns, however, she maintained an effortless image by sticking to the basics: simple yet flattering dress shapes, classic yet subtle colors, and minimal yet bold makeup.

Several of the movie’s most stylish trends are being recycled in today’s fashion. Playful swing dresses, for example, have been in high demand. Modern takes on this classic item have surfaced in stores such as Nordstrom and Anthropology, and are able to accompany styles from boho to street chic.

Winged eyeliner is another beauty technique still popular in today’s culture. The simple act of drawing a line across one’s eyelid has become an essential part of many girls’ makeup routines. Okay…so maybe it’s not that simple, but it is the perfect way to get that timeless look seen on celebs from Lauren Conrad to Adele.

Though the movie’s fashion was admirable, so was its emphasis on individuality and class. If the style trends of the 1950s found their way back to today, so can this era’s commendable ideals of beauty.


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